Microsoft Building 'Containerized' Data Center

A new Chicago-area facility will be the first to feature many self-contained, modular subsystems.

LAS VEGAS-Microsoft is in the process of building the industry's first container-based data center.

Microsoft first said a year ago that it was considering the idea, and now the concept is coming to fruition, Michael Manos, Microsoft's senior director of Data Center Services, said April 1 in a keynote address at the AFCOM Data Center World conference here.

The new center will be located in Northlake, Ill., near Chicago. Microsoft is also building new data centers in San Antonio; Quincy, Wash.; and Dublin, Ireland. The Chicago facility will be the only one with a "containerized" floor.
"This is the first data center of this kind that we know of, and we've seen a lot of them," Microsoft Principal Power and Cooling Architect Christian Belady told eWEEK.
It is an emerging trend in the industry for data centers to use containers as a key component. Sun Microsystems introduced the idea in October 2006 with its Project Blackbox data center, and it has been selling them in increasing numbers ever since.
Each Blackbox package combines storage, computing, and network infrastructure hardware and software-along with high-efficiency power and liquid cooling-in modular units based on standard 20-by-8-by-8-foot shipping containers.
Each unit holds up to 250 Sun Fire blade servers (standard 19-inch-wide size) and provides up to 1.5 petabytes of disk storage, 2 petabytes of tape storage and up to 7TB of RAM. A fully configured Blackbox unit weighs under 20,000 pounds and has front and rear doors, seven service access points inside, and cutting-edge cooling and power distribution equipment.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...